Bad TV


Watched an episode of a well-known long running crime procedural show last night, because this guy I know was a co/guest star. You guys, it was so so so bad.

Now understand, I get it. I’m picky about my TV. A lot of what I do end up watching has some problems, because it was written by a human (one with slightly more imagination and creative freedom than a network writer, perhaps?) and then vetted by other humans with Important and Weighty Opinions, and then vetted (maybe?) by a representative from the respective network. I’m probably missing a couple links in the bureaucratic nightmare chain. But the stuff I watch (mostly produced on cable channels. Sigh) is still original, well-written, or compelling (or hey, all three if I’m lucky) and has to be, to keep me watching.

This show last night? SO NONE OF THESE THREE. And that was so frustrating! Millions of people watch this show, and it was shit! Not guilty-pleasure shit. Not comfortable shit. SHIT-shit. Here’s why, the bullet-point list

  1. The writing was wooden.
    • So wooden that the weird “love”-themed quotes they stuck in as bookends (and poorly! like, one in the middle of the show, and one at the end! Not really “bookends” then, are they?) seemed really florid in comparison. Instead of just, you know, quality writing.
    • So wooden that one character talks like a pharmaceutical ad given human form.
    • So wooden that everyone says the same thing over and over, and no one notices that they’re basically restating what their conversational partner just said. (I kept waiting for someone to snap, “I JUST. TOTALLY. SAID THAT, Ashley. GOD.”)
    • So wooden that every sentiment expressed seemed cliche. Oh, wait, that was a separate issue.
      Think of it this way: so wooden that all the dialogue spontaneously turned to stone, like a petrified tree after a forest fire, and the speakers collapsed under the weight of their ponderous, ponderous words.

    Moving on!

  2. Plot was bad.
    • The plot for this ep was basically: if you are fat and ugly and a woman, you will be depressed (probably, if you have an underlying medical condition that you don’t get treated because you’re awful and no one will love you, and therefore it’s all your own fault) and you should be. Because you are fat and ugly.
    • Also, the fat ugly woman kills beautiful slim women. Because she’s JEALOUS.
    • Of course, this is “fat and ugly” by Hollywood standards, so the woman in question is bigger. She also has a lovely smile, wears makeup and clothing that isn’t terribly unflattering, and has shiny, styled hair. But, you know, fat! Ugly! UGGGGGGHHHHHHHH. This fucking episode. There is no plot here, just a bunch of reiterative Grimm’s Fairy Tales for the advertisement age. Stay slim, ladies! Don’t get depressed! Otherwise you’ll get kee-raay-zaaay and kill a bunch of people because you want to get married and buy a lot of stuff. Or something. I don’t think whoever wrote this was very sure of anything other than fat! Is ugly! Obviously anyone who isn’t tiny will want to kill those who are! (with, er, mitigating mental health circumstances, um, um.)

      Ugh. Moving on.

  3. Random sports star cameos that have no bearing on the larger story.
    • Okay, this was kinda hilarious.
  4. Story structure. This one threw me for a loop, and I’m still not sure how to explain why it didn’t work. You know how in Red Dragon or Silence of the Lambs, you get dueling perspectives in real time? You get the cop/procedural POV as they find bodies and hunt the killer, and then you get the killer’s life and POV as they elude the police and hunt their victims. Pretty standard for both books. Both books are compulsively readable, really exciting. I remember sitting on my apartment porch and devouring Red Dragon instead of going to bed. Well, this show had a similar structure. But it didn’t work. Instead of keeping me on the edge of my seat, it felt like:

    Killer Storyline: Killer does something.
    Cop Storyline: React to Killer Storyline events.
    Killer Storyline: Killer does something.
    Cop Storyline: React to Killer Storyline events. Everyone stands in a circle and says stuff, usually A) a restatement of what someone else said, or B) an astonishing insightful leap about the killer/killings in order to catch the killer in under an hour, before show end.
    (repeat as many times as needed to fill hour. Add some guns/shouting/jumpy editing)End: storylines meet, cop characters say more redundant stuff and add wry, cryptic opinions about other cop/teammate’s love lives.

    So why doesn’t this work? I’m not sure. I think because we’re not really learning anything new about Cop or Killer in either storyline, nothing interesting, anyway. It’s just back-and-forth, redundant, like a one-page essay printed twice — the second page is the same as the first, only with all the words bolded and underlined. The Killer Storyline shows the events, and then the Cop Storyline narrates or tells them. Boooorrrrrrrring, and inadvertently, wildly humorous, because everyone says their lines with such gravity.

Ugh, I can’t talk about this anymore. I had to take a shower and read a book afterward and my brain is still not recovered. More later.


Baby has stopped sleeping through the night. Teething? Sleep regression? Developmental jump? I have no clue. I have no thoughts about anything but bad TV, and how hard I need to concentrate on getting the tea into my mug without spilling water. It is AMAZING how those hard-won fine motor skills just disappear with a few weeks’ bad sleep.


3 thoughts on “Bad TV

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